Breaking the foundations is thrilling, particularly if they’ve held for a very long time. That is true not simply in life but additionally in particle physics. Right here the rule I’m pondering of is named “lepton taste universality,” and it is among the predictions of our Commonplace Mannequin of particle physics, which describes all of the identified elementary particles and their interactions (aside from gravity). For a number of many years after the invention of the Commonplace Mannequin, particles appeared to obey this rule.
Issues began to vary in 2004, when the E821 experiment at Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory on Lengthy Island introduced its measurement of a property of the muon—a heavy model of the electron—often known as its g-factor. The measurement wasn’t what the Commonplace Mannequin predicted. Muons and electrons are each a part of a category of particles referred to as leptons (together with a 3rd particle, the tau, in addition to the three generations of neutrinos). The rule of lepton taste universality says that as a result of electrons and muons are charged leptons, they need to all work together with different particles in the identical manner (barring small variations associated to the Higgs particle). In the event that they don’t, then they violate lepton taste universality—and the sudden g-factor measurement instructed that’s simply what was occurring.
If particles actually had been breaking this rule, that might be thrilling in its personal proper and likewise as a result of physicists imagine that the Commonplace Mannequin can’t be the final word concept of nature. The speculation doesn’t clarify why neutrinos have mass, nor what makes up the invisible darkish matter that appears to dominate the cosmos, nor why matter received out over antimatter within the early universe. Subsequently, the Commonplace Mannequin have to be merely an approximate description that we might want to complement by including new particles and interactions. Physicists have proposed an enormous variety of such extensions, however at most one among these theories might be appropriate, and to date none of them has obtained any direct affirmation. A measured violation of the Commonplace Mannequin can be a flashlight pointing the best way towards this greater concept we search.
A Journey to Elba
The E821 experiment and the invention of mysterious muon conduct occurred earlier than my time in particle physics. I acquired concerned within the enterprise of lepton taste universality violation about 10 years in the past, as a postdoc in Bern, Switzerland, once I was invited to a gathering in regards to the proposed SuperB collider to be in-built Tor Vergata close to Rome. The assembly was being held on the picturesque Italian island of Elba on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although picturesque, the island isn’t straightforward to achieve. The invitation was on quick discover; I rapidly booked a practice to Pisa however missed the convention bus. Fortuitously, two of the organizers provided to take me alongside of their automotive to Elba. This experience proved fortuitous.
As we drove via lovely landscapes, we chatted about physics. One of many scientists, an experimentalist named Eugenio Paoloni, requested me what I assumed in regards to the new measurements of B meson decays by the BaBar experiment in California, which pointed towards a violation of lepton taste universality. B mesons are particles containing a magnificence quark, and they’re a few of physicists’ favourite particles to check as a result of they decay in quite a lot of ways in which have the potential to disclose new secrets and techniques of physics. I hadn’t heard in regards to the BaBar end result, in all probability as a result of on the time it hadn’t attracted a lot consideration. However I rapidly considered a doable clarification for the measurement—a brand new Higgs boson, along with the traditional one we all know of, may trigger the phenomena seen at BaBar. My curiosity within the subject of lepton taste universality violations was born.
The remainder of the workshop was uneventful. After the primary day, the main target was on the event of the collider, and as a theorist I didn’t perceive a phrase the experimentalists had been saying. So I loved Elba and labored on a paper about my Higgs boson concept, which I completed shortly after my return to Bern. The article acquired revealed, however sadly the SuperB venture was canceled, and the reactions of my colleagues to the paper weren’t enthusiastic, to say the least: “A 12 months from now there will probably be nothing left to clarify by new physics” was a typical response, which means that the measurement was in all probability a statistical fluke and the anomaly would disappear with extra information.
For a while after the BaBar findings, there have been no new outcomes associated to this query, and issues grew quiet. However then, in 2013, the LHCb experiment on the Giant Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN close to Geneva noticed a deviation from the Commonplace Mannequin prediction in an advanced amount referred to as P5′ (“P-five-prime”) associated to how B mesons decay. On the floor, this amount isn’t associated to lepton taste universality, and I didn’t discover the measurement very thrilling at first. My emotions modified a 12 months later, nevertheless, when LHCb analyzed a ratio referred to as R(Okay), which is a measure of lepton taste universality violation. The experiment discovered a deviation from the usual expectation, and it agreed with the P5′ findings, indicating that some new phenomenon is likely to be occurring in muons.
A short time later the story hit a turning level, once more at a convention. It was as soon as extra in Italy, this time within the charming village of La Thuile within the Alps, near Mont Blanc. Throughout the afternoon session after the snowboarding break, a partial eclipse of the solar passed off. Simply as superb, scientists from LHCb introduced a end result that confirmed the earlier P5′ measurement with extra statistics—and my concept associates Joaquim Matias (referred to as Quim) and David Straub agreed on the interpretation of those information. That they had by no means agreed earlier than. After thanking the audio system, I mentioned to the viewers, “Right now we witnessed a uncommon occasion, a partial eclipse of the solar; nevertheless, that Quim and David agree for the primary time is much more exceptional.”
From then on, the proof for lepton taste universality violation has continued to develop. Lepton universality is an previous rule, and it has been a few years since we final noticed part of the Commonplace Mannequin be disproved. If the rule has actually been damaged, there have to be new interactions and new particles within the universe that we don’t learn about—probably particles that would assist clear up a number of the largest mysteries of our time.
Again to Fundamentals
To completely perceive lepton taste universality and what violating it means, we first should assessment the identified constituents of matter on the subatomic scale and the interactions amongst them—that’s, the Commonplace Mannequin. The constructing blocks of matter are referred to as fermions, after the good physicist Enrico Fermi. These matter particles are available in three variations, referred to as generations, which might be the identical in each manner besides for his or her mass. For example, the electron has heavier variations referred to as muons and taus, the up quark has heavier family named allure and high quarks, and the down quark is adopted by unusual and sweetness quarks. Solely the sunshine flavors are secure—they represent the strange matter our world is made from. (Two up quarks and a down quark make a proton, and one up quark and two down quarks make a neutron.)
Along with these particles, there are three forces via which the fermions can work together: the weak pressure, the sturdy pressure and the electromagnetic pressure (gravity is disregarded within the Commonplace Mannequin as a result of this can be very weak on the subatomic scale). The corresponding pressure particles are referred to as the W and Z bosons (for the weak pressure), gluons (for the sturdy pressure) and photons (for the electromagnetic pressure). Crucially, none of those interactions distinguishes among the many three generations of fermions. The one factor that differentiates between the flavors is the well-known Higgs boson, which is accountable for the fermions’ differing lots.
Or so we thought. If leptons aren’t common—if there are forces that do discriminate among the many generations—then one thing fascinating is afoot. To this point we’ve got 4 completely different indications that lepton taste universality may not maintain true.
b → sl+l–
The primary comes from measurements of a particle decay course of labeled b → sl+l–, the place the b represents a magnificence quark, s is a wierd quark and l is a charged lepton (both an electron or a muon). Throughout this course of the wonder quark turns into a wierd quark and produces a pair of leptons—particularly, a lepton and its antimatter companion. We’d count on these lessons of decays to offer rise to muons roughly as usually as electrons. But experiments which have measured these processes, equivalent to LHCb, observe extra electrons than muons, suggesting an imbalance. The mixed experimental information now point out that there’s at most a 0.0001 p.c likelihood this distinction is just a statistical fluke.
Theorists have proposed numerous new particles and forces that may describe the information higher than the Commonplace Mannequin. How, one would possibly ask, can one account for an absence of muons by including new particles? Explaining a deficit via an addition may appear contradictory, however this may be the case solely in classical physics. Within the quantum realm, it makes good sense. As a result of all particles even have wave properties, quantum mechanics predicts so-called digital particles that seem and disappear on a regular basis in empty house. These particles can intervene with the decay processes of standard particles, inflicting the decay charges to vary from what the Commonplace Mannequin predicts. One chance right here, as an illustration, is that the wonder quark, on its strategy to turning into its normal decay merchandise, briefly interacts with a digital heavy model, a brand new Z boson (referred to as Z′) that, opposite to the usual Z particle, does distinguish between muons and electrons.
b → clv
The second piece of proof for lepton universality violations comes from observing a magnificence quark decaying right into a allure quark (c), a lepton (l) and a neutrino (υ). Right here tau leptons are anticipated much less steadily than muons or electrons as a result of they’re heavier. But experiments equivalent to BaBar, LHCb and an experiment in Japan referred to as Belle have discovered that decays to tau particles occur extra usually than anticipated. Moreover, the decays to muons and electrons present a relative asymmetry not anticipated within the Commonplace Mannequin. Once more, digital particles could also be interfering with the standard decay pathways. For example, the wonder quark could work together with a digital charged Higgs particle such because the one I proposed in 2012 (though this mannequin now has some issues) or with one other proposed novel particle known as a leptoquark.
Cabibbo Angle Anomaly and qq→e+e−
One other intriguing sign comes from sure radioactive decays referred to as nuclear beta decays. Experiments have noticed that these decays occur much less steadily than anticipated. Beta decays happen inside atomic nuclei, when down quarks remodel into up quarks, or vice versa, permitting a neutron to change into a proton, or the reverse, by emitting an electron and an antineutrino, or a positron (the antimatter counterpart of the electron) and a neutrino. When physicists mixed their measurements with improved theoretical calculations, they realized that the particles inside nuclei stay longer than anticipated. This discovering, referred to as the Cabibbo Angle Anomaly, might be interpreted as one other signal that electrons and muons would possibly behave otherwise.
Moreover, the CMS experiment on the LHC noticed collisions of two protons that resulted in high-energy electrons (qq→e+e−) and located that extra electrons had been produced compared to muons than anticipated, once more pointing towards the violation of lepton taste universality. This measurement and the Cabibbo Angle Anomaly might be associated as a result of the identical interplay would possibly suppress radioactive decays but additionally improve the manufacturing of high-energy electrons.
The Magnetic Second of the Muon
This time period describes how strongly a muon interacts with a magnetic discipline. Physicists quantify it with a g-factor, which we are able to predict very exactly with the Commonplace Mannequin. But the Brookhaven experiment and the most recent outcomes coming from the G-2 experiment at Fermilab deviate from this prediction. The G-2 venture sends muons round a magnetized ring and measures how their spins change as they journey. If muons had been alone within the experiment, their spins wouldn’t change—however digital particles arising round them can tug on the muons, introducing a wobble to their spins. After all, the identified particles can seem as digital particles to trigger this impact, however the Commonplace Mannequin calculation accounts for that. If there are extra particles in nature than those we’re conscious of, nevertheless, the experiment will see an additional wobble—and it does.
The mixed outcomes from the G-2 experiment and the earlier trial at Brookhaven add as much as a likelihood of lower than 0.01 p.c that this anomaly is a statistical fluke. But the Commonplace Mannequin prediction that permits this calculation is itself questionable. It’s primarily based on different experimental outcomes (for instance, from BaBar and the KLOE venture in Italy) that don’t agree with simulations of quantum discipline concept that had been lately carried out on supercomputers.
A New Particle Zoo
If we should lengthen the Commonplace Mannequin to account for these anomalies, how ought to we do it? In different phrases, how can we modify the equations describing nature in order that concept and experiment agree?
Particles in a single promising class which might be able to explaining these measurements are referred to as leptoquarks. They join a single quark on to a single lepton: as an illustration, a lepton may remodel right into a quark by emitting a leptoquark—in contrast to any interplay within the Commonplace Mannequin. Such a particle can be one thing radically new. It has been proposed prior to now within the context of grand unified theories, which had been devised to unite the completely different forces within the Commonplace Mannequin at excessive energies. These excessive energies, nevertheless, would correspond to particles which might be very heavy. Physicists would want to change current grand unified fashions to create a leptoquark mild sufficient to have an effect on the measurements we’ve got mentioned.
An alternative choice includes different new particles, equivalent to heavy fermions, heavy “scalar” particles (together with new Higgs bosons), or novel gauge bosons (much like the W and Z bosons). One intriguing strategy to predict such particles is by utilizing theories that comprise, along with our 4 dimensions (three of house and one among time), a minimum of one additional dimension, compactly folded up and hidden inside the ones we all know.
Though these hints we’ve got for brand spanking new phenomena are very intriguing—a minimum of in my opinion—it’s crucial that we corroborate these hints with further, extra exact information and extra correct theoretical calculations. Various experiments and theoretical collaborations worldwide are engaged on this problem. These embody the LHCb experiment, which began gathering new information when the LHC started its most up-to-date run this summer time. The Belle II experiment in Japan, which is devoted to investigating B meson decays, can also be gathering new proof. If simply one among these anomalies had been confirmed, it will show the existence of latest particles or interactions. Moreover, it will imply that the brand new particles will need to have lots that might be probed immediately on the LHC or a future collider. These novel particles would additionally have an effect on different phenomena we are able to observe, permitting physicists to make complementary checks of the brand new particles’ properties.
Future accelerators may present additional insights. An electron-positron collider, such because the Future Round Collider (FCC-ee) deliberate at CERN or the Round Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) to be in-built China, ought to have a sufficiently excessive luminosity (which means they produce sufficient collisions) to create massive numbers of Z bosons. These are helpful for observing predicted deviations from the Commonplace Mannequin in a number of methods. First, most anomalies, particularly the anomalous magnetic second of the muon, would have an effect on Z decays, equivalent to Z bosons turning right into a muon and an antimatter muon. Second, the Z bosons anticipated on the FCC-ee would produce an unprecedented variety of magnificence quarks and tau leptons. Giant numbers of those particles would enable for exact checks of the decay processes for which we count on to see results from new particles—results which might be at the moment not detectable as a result of we lack sufficient information to see a robust sign. An electron-positron collider may begin working round 2040. Later, physicists hope to collide protons in the identical tunnel (the machine would then be referred to as the FCC-hh), producing a lot greater energies and probably creating the particles immediately. Such a collider would in all probability not open earlier than 2060, nevertheless. I would want a really wholesome life-style to see one of many fashions I’ve labored on confirmed.
We’re at an thrilling level on this exploration. Outcomes are continuously being up to date and questioned. Very lately new concept calculations bolstered the case for brand spanking new physics in b → sl+l− and b → clν decays; in the meantime, there are rumors in regards to the reliability of the corresponding experimental measurements. We’re all eagerly awaiting up to date measurements and additional improved theoretical predictions. If the current hints of lepton universality violation maintain up, they might present long-sought steering towards a extra full elementary concept of particle physics. We hope such a concept will lastly resolve a few of our largest questions on nature—neutrino lots, darkish matter and the lacking antimatter in our universe.